Here’s what it’s like to fly a P-51 when the engine quits

This week, the famous Memphis Belle B-17 World War II bomber was unveiled after a restoration. There are fewer than a dozen B-17’s left flying and this won’t be one of them. It’s too valuable to lose so it will spend the rest of its days in a museum.

There’s a fair amount of debate in aviation history circles about whether old airplanes should be flown or merely displayed, and a pretty incredible video released today should rekindle the discussion.

Mark Levy was piloting a P-51 fighter in the annual airshow in Duxford, England last July when the engine quit. He was wearing a helmet camera for the flight, which provides a most unusual perspective on what it’s like when you’re about to go down in a classic aircraft.

This is what it looks like to ditch in a P-51.

A day earlier, another P-51 had crashed, killing the pilot and a passenger.

For aviation fans, here’s a longer discussion about flying and landing a crippled airplane.

Archive: The unnecessary death of a B-17 (NewsCut)

  • Reminds me of the P-51 that went down near Red Wing.


  • Rob

    For me, the point of going to air shows is to see the warbirds in flight. If the intent of restoration is anything less than getting the craft airborne, why bother?

  • Joseph

    Any landing you can walk away from is a good day. And I agree — historic war planes should be flown, as much as they are possible. It’s much harder to love and understand what the plane is like, and why you should care when it’s just a simple static display. The paint glinting in the sun, the roar of the engines, and the grace in flight — they all combine together to make something unforgettable.

  • Guest

    Cherish any chance you get to hear the ROAR of props in warbird.